Babbo and John Dory alum David Lynch is getting the most attention at Quince, but the wine director says the 750-strong wine list is a group effort with chef-owner Michael Tusk and his two sommeliers, Claudio Villani and Michael Ireland. Though the 300 varietals they̱ve added are primarily Italian, Lynch says he wants Quince to be a varied “wine destination.” New Yorkers are “anti-American” when it comes to wine, Lynch told us today, and his time in California has already exposed him to some quality American vintners. He shared some of his new picks with us, and discussed the differences between San Francisco and New York.
What’s the biggest difference in working with the Tusks as opposed to Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich at Babbo?
I think Joe and Mario will build what they want and expect people will come. Mike and Lindsay are very keenly focused on hospitality and what their guests want as well. That’s why we didn’t go full-bore Italian. Mario’s food has some details to it and a lot of guts. This food, there’s a little more delicacy to it. I find myself steering to more delicate wines with this menu. More white.
How has the experience of choosing wines been different in California from New York?
Obviously American wines hold sway here. I came in with a classic East Coast snobbery, and I was really blown away by a lot of the American wines here. It’s still very fashionable to be anti-American in New York.
What wines have you discovered since you’ve been here?
I’ve discovered that I really do like California chardonnay sometimes. If you’re a sommelier in New York, the last thing you’re going to admit to liking is California chardonnay. Probably the most noteworthy thing is [that] I’ve been trying to make a case for Chianti Classico. No one would walk into a restaurant like this and expect to try a Chianti Classico, but some have, and have been really blown away by how good it is. I think in general, the scale of American wines is moderating a bit. They’re not all as gigantic and massive as I thought they were.
Michael Tusk told us earlier that working with you had renewed his enthusiasm for the Piedmont region of Italy. What is it about that place?
One of the things about Piedmont is, it was part of France way back when, and the dining culture is not haute cuisine but it’s really polished. It’s a really soulful place, and [Michael] is really soulful in the way he approaches cooking. There are some fantastic restaurants there that we’ve both been to that I think inform this one in a lot of ways. More so than any Parisian restaurant.
What are some of your favorites from the list you’re creating?
Raymond Boulard, Champagne Rosé de Saignée MV $90
Stroblhof, Pinot Bianco “Strahler,” Alto Adige 2007 $50
Venica & Venica, Collio Malvasia, Friuli 2007 $50
Mutti, Colli Tortonesi Timorasso “Castagnoli,” Piedmont 2007 $54
Bruno Colin, Saint-Aubin “Le Charmois” 2006 $95
Domaine du Closel, Savennières “Clos Papillon” 2006 $65
Brander, Sauvignon Blanc “Au Naturel,” Santa Ynez Valley 2007 $60
Sella, Lessona, Piedmont 2004 $80
AR.PE.PE., Valtellina Superiore Sassella “Vigna Regina,” Lombardy 1999 $95
Mumelter, Lagrein Riserva, Alto Adige 2001 $75
Villa Geggiano, Chianti Classico Riserva 2003 $65
Tenuta di Valgiano, Colline Lucchesi Rosso “Palistorti,” Tuscany 2005 $65
Camille Giroud, Marsannay “Les Longeroies” 2006 $60
Radio-Coteau, Pinot Noir “La Neblina,” Sonoma Coast 2007 $100